St. Louis Rams: The 5 Personnel Blunders That Wrecked the 2011 Season

David HeebCorrespondent INovember 8, 2011

St. Louis Rams: The 5 Personnel Blunders That Wrecked the 2011 Season

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    The Indianapolis Colts are on the clock.

    Of course, they are going to select Andrew Luck.  If the Colts' draft plans are already in set in stone, then what about the St. Louis Rams

    Because the way things are looking right now, the Rams are going to be picking right after Indy.

    How did the Rams get here?  How did things get so bad, so fast?  It seemed like just last year the Rams were 7-9 and on the verge of making the playoffs...

    Wait, that was last year? 

    Somebody has some explaining to do, and I think that "somebody" is Rams' GM Billy Devaney.  He is the man in charge of putting this roster together.  It's his job to give head coach Steve Spagnulo the weapons to compete.

    Follow along as we break down the five biggest mistakes that Devaney has made with the Rams.

No. 5: John Greco

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    The Rams wasted a third-round pick on John Greco back in 2008.  He was supposed to come in and contribute to the offensive line, but instead, he was cut by the Rams this past offseason.

    Greco is now with the Cleveland Browns, and in his absence, the Rams had to go out and spend money on high-priced free agents to solidify their offensive line. 

    Jamaal Charles, Early Doucet, Jermichael Finley and Mario Manningham were all third-round selections in the 2008 NFL Draft that the Rams passed over. 

    Instead, they chose Greco, and now he plays for the Cleveland Browns.

No. 4: Mike Sims-Walker

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    Mike Sims-Walker was picked up as a free agent this past offseason.  I was actually excited about Sims-Walker.  He had put up decent stats in Jacksonville, where he was catching passes from a decent quarterback in David Garrard.

    I thought Sims-Walker would hook up with Bradford in this exciting new Josh McDaniels video-game offense, and he would have a breakout season.

    Instead, he was cut by the Rams to make room for Brandon Lloyd at the trade deadline. 

    Sims-Walker was a bust, but to make matters even worse, the Rams cut Sims-Walker with the hope that the injured Mark Clayton would return.  It is looking more and more like Clayton will not return this year.

    So we now we don't have Sims-Walker or Clayton?  Did anybody think this through?

No. 3: Mardy Gilyard

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    Gilyard might be the most frustrating draft bust the Rams have had, at least for me.

    I thought for once we had hit a homerun!  I thought Billy Devaney had snatched a guy in the middle rounds that was going to be a difference maker, Sam Bradford's partner in crime.

    How were we supposed to know that Gilyard wasn't going to study his playbook?  How were we supposed to know that Gilyard was basically a lazy guy, and that he wouldn't put in the work during the offseason?

    As fans, we weren't supposed to know, but Billy Devaney was.

    Gilyard was so bad that he couldn't get on the field as a rookie, and this was when the Rams had no talent at the wide receiver position.

    Let me reiterate that last statement: Gilyard is a talented guy, but he was so lazy, so clueless about the playbook, that he still couldn't get on the field!

    The Mardy Gilyard Experiment lasted one year in St. Louis. 

    The Rams could have selected Mike Williams, Joe McKnight or Aaron Hernandez in the fourth round. 

    Instead, Devaney whiffed on Mardy Gilyard.

No. 2: Donnie Avery

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    Donnie Avery was the second pick of the second round (33rd overall) during the 2008 Draft.  The Rams cut Avery prior to the start of this season.

    I know, Avery got hurt.  And I know, I know, he had to learn about three different offenses during his time in St. Louis.

    Still, don't you have to get more value out of a pick this high?  Doesn't this guy have to make a difference for your football team?

    Donnie Avery was a bust, and the Rams passed over some good players to get him.  Instead of choosing Avery, the Rams could have taken Jordy Nelson, Tracy Porter, Matt Forte, Desean Jackson, Calais Campbell, Ray Rice or Martellus Bennett in the second round.

    I think I'm going to throw up on my keyboard now.

    If you ever wonder why the Rams offense is so anemic, it's because Billy Devaney has wasted a lot of picks on wide receivers that were total busts.

No. 1: Jason Smith

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    Jason Smith was the second overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.  When you draft an offensive tackle that high, you are drafting somebody to protect "the blind side."  This is a pick being used on a left tackle, because he is going to make a fortune.

    Jason Smith plays right tackle, and that is all you really need to know about this pick.

    You can't waste this pick on a right tackle!  If the Rams weren't absolutely positive that Smith was a franchise left tackle, then they should have picked somebody else. 

    And the Rams had a ton of other worthy candidates.

    The Rams passed on first rounders B.J. Raji, Brian Orakpro, Brian Cushing, Josh Freeman, Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Pettigrew, Percy Harvin, Michael Oher, Clay Matthews, Kenny Britt, Hakeem Nicks and Ziggy Hood!

    Instead, they chose Smith.

    I know hindsight is 20/20, and I know that a lot of these guys were not even in consideration to be picked in the top five in the draft. 

    But couldn't the Rams have done something else with this pick?

    If the Rams weren't sure that Jason Smith was a franchise left tackle, and they didn't just love another prospect, why not take anything just to trade back a couple of spots? 

    Because by selecting Jason Smith with the second pick, the Rams not only wasted the pick, but they also saddled themselves with a terrible contract for the foreseeable future.

    I mean, we could have had Brian Orakpro!  That guy is in the Geico commercials now!

    Instead, we are stuck with Jason Smith.

Add It All Up, and the Bad Decisions Are Like a Snow Ball Rolling Down a Hill

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    The Rams were so short on NFL quality players at the skill positions that they were desperate heading into the 2011 NFL Draft.

    When you are desperate, you do stupid things. 

    Like reaching for tight end Lance Kendricks in the second round, or drafting almost identical receivers in Round 3 (Austin Pettis) and Round 4 (Greg Salas).

    I actually think all three of those guys might end up being good players for the Rams.  I really like Greg Salas, and I think Kendricks will eventually become a matchup nightmare.

    My point is, Kendricks wouldn't have even been in the picture if we had picked Jermichael Finley.  There is no way we would have picked Salas and Pettis if we already had DeSean Jackson or Mike Williams on the roster.

    So one bad decision leads to another desperate reach.  The next thing you know, a couple of guys get injured, and then you hit a difficult stretch in the schedule....

    And all of a sudden, you are 1-7, and everybody is getting fired.

    I feel sorry for whoever takes over for Billy Devaney.  He has one helluva mess to clean up.